‘High-Quality H20’: 57 Trivia Tidbits About Adam Sandler on His 57th Birthday

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‘High-Quality H20’: 57 Trivia Tidbits About Adam Sandler on His 57th Birthday

He’s the undisputed money-making box-office king. He’s managed to work with surprising leading ladies, the likes of Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston and the wonderful Queen Latifah. He’s done goofy comedies, rom-coms, cartoons and a crime thriller, always managing to keep evolving while still staying true to what fans love about him. 

Adam Sandler celebrates his 57th birthday today, and to honor the guy who few thought would make it in the movie industry, here’s a big ol’ list of trivia about the illustrious career of The Sandman...

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The Show That Launched His Career

Back in the day, when MTV first realized they would have to create content other than music videos, Sandler launched his career on the channel’s first show, Remote Control. During his stint on this 1987 parody game show, he crafted some of his earliest SNL characters while also somehow sounding like Ali G before Sacha Baron Cohen even created the character.

He Recorded His First Comedy Album Because He Couldn’t Do Dirty Jokes on ‘SNL’

“There were skits and songs and stuff I wanted to do but didn’t think I could get on SNL because they were too filthy,” Sandler told Spin during the oral history interview of his comedy album, They’re All Gonna Laugh at You!. “So I told Lorne (Michaels) I was interested in making a record, and he introduced me to (Warner Bros. Records Chairman) Mo Ostin, and we had a nice meeting. Everyone thought I wanted to make a stand-up record, but I wanted to do something more like Cheech & Chong, with sketches and everything. That was the idea.”

He Was Doing a Lot of Prank Calls While Recording That First Album

“At that moment, Adam hadn’t done almost anything,” Judd Apatow (who performed on They’re All Gonna Laugh at You!) told Spin. “That’s why he was making an enormous amount of phony phone calls — because he had all this comedic energy and didn’t have a place to put it. At two in the morning, I would walk in his room, and he would be making a prank phone call complaining about the turkey sandwiches at Jerry’s Deli. He would be really amused, and no one was in the room with him. So all that energy went into making the record.”

On Getting Fired from ‘SNL’

“Yes, we were (fired),” Sandler said of Chris Farley and himself during an interview with The Daily Beast. “We kind of quit at the same time as being fired. It was the end of the run for us. The fact that me and him got fired? Who knows. We were on it for a few years, had our run, and everything happens for a reason. We kind of understood because we did our thing. It hurt a lot at the time because we were young and didn’t know where we were going, but it all worked out.”

On Chris Farley

“I miss Farley,” Sandler said in the same interview. “He was a tour de force on the show and dominated. He could dominate anybody. There’s nobody that can walk into a room and take over better than Farley. I haven’t seen anyone since he’s gone that’s taken that spot. He’s the strongest presence I’ve ever seen.”

He Was in ’The Cosby Show’

In 1987, around when he was kickstarting his career on Remote Control, Sandler was featured on four episodes of The Cosby Show as Theo’s friend, Smitty.

Sandler Improvised Most of the Trash Talk in ‘Hustle’

“We had some improv going at all times because he’s a very loose guy and funny, and we loved each other,” he said about his co-star, Juancho Hernangómez. “But the Spanish, I had that written down, I have to admit. When I had (to) talk nasty in Spanish and try to insult him, they were all written earlier. (To Hernangómez) I remember one time I said something to you in Spanish, and you go, ‘That’s Mexican.’”

He Wrote a Song About Steve Buscemi

Buscemi — who’s been in 14 of Sandler’s movies so far — was honored by the comedian when Sandler dropped a tribute song on a charity livestream, praising all of Buscemi’s Sandler-verse characters. (Starts at 2:07:37 below.)

He Loves Playing ‘Loser Roles’

“I just have a natural part of my brain that feels like I don’t belong here,” Sandler once said about his own imposter syndrome. “This feeling uncomfortable and loser stuff I’ve been doing for years, it’s in me.”

About His Past Work

“I feel the same in the way that I was always pretty excited to be doing it,” Sandler said on the Little Gold Men podcast. “I don’t look back at any of my old stuff and go, ‘Wow, you nailed it there, man.’ I’m usually like, ‘Wow, you were just getting by, man.’ I think just getting more and more settled as a human being, my acting is probably changing over the years. I always thought I was doing the right thing in the moment, and I still do, but I look back at even stuff from five years ago, and I go, ‘Oh, should’ve done this, man, that was a little weird choice that you made there, man. What the hell happened?’ Maybe I played it too big, or maybe I played it — I was too trying to show what I was feeling in that moment, or the joke was over the top, or whatever the hell it was. But it meant a lot to me, and I believed in it then, so I still back it up.”

He’s Working on a UFC Comedy Series

UFC President Dana White revealed to The Pat McAfee Show earlier this year that his company is “working on a show right now with Adam Sandler that’s a comedy about working in the offices of the UFC.”

His Debut Movie

Sandler’s first film, 1989’s Going Overboard, saw him playing Shecky Moskowitz, a struggling comedian working on a cruise ship. Sandler can boast that his first feature also starred Billy Zane and Billy Bob Thornton — not that any of them would necessarily want to remember it.

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He Used to Shack Up with Judd Apatow

Sandler and Apatow lived together when they were both struggling comics trying to break into showbiz. Their film Funny People opens with a home video prank call that Apatow shot in the 1990s when they were roommates.

On Rage and Relating to ‘Punch-Drunk Love’

“In my personal life, I’ve had the rage; that’s a fact,” Sandler once told UPI. “What I love about the bathroom scene, I’ve never gone in a public bathroom and tore it apart, but I have smashed telephones. My big move when I was growing up with the rage: I’d have a little snap. Screaming and whatever, then I’d run into the blue bedroom in the house and shut the door, and I’d be crying and look in the mirror, and I’d stare at my eyes – my eyes are kinda green when I cry. So even though I was having my tantrum, I was preparing myself for acting roles in the future. It looks good when I tear up.”

He Doesn’t Read Reviews (Anymore)

Sandler stopped reading any reviews of his movies after the critical trashing of Billy Madison

Henry Winkler Calls Sandler an Auteur

The veteran actor — who co-starred in The Waterboy — has praised Sandler for his hands-on approach to filmmaking and applauded the comedian for his ability to be in charge of every single detail and aspect of a movie.

He Was 17 When He First Started Doing Stand-Up

The Sandman was but a wee youngin’ when he spontaneously took to the stage at a Boston comedy club and made his stand-up debut.

Dennis Miller Got Him a Job at ‘SNL’

Sandler revealed on The Howard Stern Show that Miller saw Sandler do his stand-up and convinced Lorne Michaels to give him a shot.

He Made His Network TV Debut on the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’

While Sandler eventually took off when writing and performing on SNL, he made his network television debut on Letterman’s late-night show.

Sandler Gets Anxiety Performing Live

“On Saturday Night Live, I was always better at dress rehearsal because, in my brain, I knew no one was seeing that one,” he told Stern, explaining that he’s always anxious in front of live audiences.

The Adam Sandler Roast (Where He Roasted Everyone)

In 2003, Night of Too Many Stars hosted their first-ever roast as a fundraiser for autism, with Sandler being the guest of honor. The Sandman, however, ended up roasting everyone else as a running joke that ended with him “bashing” David Spade’s head into the podium. Classic stuff.

He Studied at NYU

Sandler graduated from New York University with his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1991. During this time, he performed stand-up at clubs and other universities.

Drew Barrymore Pitched Him on Making Movies Together

Barrymore was working at a coffee shop when she called Sandler and told him they should be making movies together. Sandler said that shortly after meeting up and discussing the potential of collaborating, he and his writing partner, Tim Herlihy, came up with The Wedding Singer.

’The Wedding Singer’ Director Met Sandler at NYU

Director Frank Coraci told us that he first met Sandler as a freshman at NYU. “Adam was in my dorm, and he would do comedy shows,” Coraci remembers. “One night, my roommate (future Happy Madison Productions co-founder) Jack Giarraputo was like, ‘Let’s go hang out with Adam and (future screenwriter) Tim Herlihy.’ We ended up having such a fun night, then we came back and hung out in the dorm and probably smoked weed. We made each other laugh all night.” 

They remained friends, wrote some songs together and would eventually collaborate on the movie where Sandler gets to sing at some messed-up weddings.

His Dad Is on His Company’s Logo

Sandler told Stern that his dad, Stanley Sandler, always supported his career and went to his stand-up shows whenever he could. Stanley passed away on September 9, 2003 (yes, on his son’s birthday), but his legacy lives on as the face of the Happy Madison Productions logo.

His Highest-Grossing Movies

According to MovieWeb, these are the Top 5 highest-grossing Adam Sandler movies of all time (so far):

  1. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation ($528M)
  2. Hotel Transylvania 2 ($470M)
  3. Hotel Transylvania ($378M)
  4. Grown Ups ($272M)
  5. Grown Ups 2 ($247M)

Everyone Has Covered His ‘The Chanukah Song’

Written by Sandler (alongside Lewis Morton and Ian Maxtone-Graham), “The Chanukah Song” was first performed by the comedian on SNL’s Weekend Update segment on December 3, 1994. It was a surprise hit and has since been covered and parodied by everyone from The Office to Neil Diamond to the rock band Haim.

His Love for Basketball Comes from His Family

Basketball started for me (when) I was a young man,” Sandler told Netflix’s Tudum. “I played with my dad, my brother and my uncle, who was 6-foot-6. And we had a telephone pole on our street. My father painted a little board brown, put it up on the telephone pole, put a rim on it. It was very small, so you didn’t have much backboard to work with. But we used to play hoops out there in the street, and when a car came by we’d have to stop. But I got addicted to it then.”

Sandler Threatened to Quit ‘Airheads’ If They Didn’t Cast Brendan Fraser

Sandler revealed on Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series that he told the studio he would walk if they didn’t cast Fraser opposite him in the 1994 comedy. He explained that the movie’s director, Michael Lehmann, apparently didn’t “get” Fraser but eventually caved when Sandler threatened to ditch the project.

Tom Cruise Helped Sandler Get the Part in ‘Punch-Drunk Love’

Sandler revealed on Jason Bateman’s podcast, SmartLess, that he met Cruise when Nicole Kidman hosted an episode of SNL, and the two guys ended up swapping numbers. When Cruise was doing Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, he phoned Sandler up, saying Anderson wanted to do a movie with him. “And I was like, ‘Okay, thanks,’ but I didn’t know who he (Anderson) was,” Sandler recalled. “He goes, ‘I just love your movies and your albums. Is it okay if I write you a movie?’ I said, ‘You can do whatever you want, man.’ He was sweet. I could tell he was funny.’”

Sandler Almost Didn’t Work With Paul Thomas Anderson

Sandler continued saying that he went to see Magnolia, and it freaked him out. “I went alone, and it was sold out, and I was in the front row, and I was looking up at it, and I was fucking terrified,” Sandler remembers. “I was going, ‘Oh, this guy is fucking better than me. I don’t want to fucking be in this. I’m going to ruin his movie! Holy shit!’ I called him up on the way home and was like, ‘Holy shit. I just saw your movie. Fuck. The frogs! So you’re writing that movie still?’” 

Finally a Host

A whopping 24 years after leaving SNL, Sandler got to host the show in 2019, with him and a surprise guest hilariously opening with a song about getting fired from SNL.

He Almost Played the Bear Jew in ‘Inglourious Basterds’

Sandler confirmed the rumor to Stern that he was approached by Quentin Tarantino to play Eli Roth’s character in the 2009 war movie. Sandler said he really wanted to do it but that the shoot conflicted with Funny People. He also added that he felt bad because Tarantino had been telling him for years that he’d written the part specifically for Sandler.

He Gives Expensive Gifts

The Grown Up cast all got their own Maseratis, courtesy of Sandler.

The Sandler-verse

There’s an O’Doyle character in every other Sandler comedy, including Billy Madison, Click and Hubie Halloween.

He’s Been Likened to Jim Varney

Jim Varney is best known for his role as Ernest P. Worrell, and there are some noticeable similarities between the Ernest films and Sandler’s. Hubie Halloween and Ernest Scared Stupid both feature a good-hearted simpleton fending off supernatural forces on All Hallows’ Eve. Furthermore, Ernest went to school a year before Billy Madison; both have gone to jail, done holiday movies and had films with problematic depictions of Africa.

Sandler Begged Philip Seymour Hoffman to Do ‘Billy Madison’

Hoffman auditioned for the role of Eric Gordon, the villain in Billy Madison, but when Sandler wanted to sign him up, Hoffman changed his mind. As Sandler told it: “I called him up and said, ‘Hey, it’s Adam,’ and he’s like, (in a shy, humble, quiet voice), ‘Oh hey Adam.’ I go, ‘Hey, I saw your tape, you’re so great, buddy, and they said you don’t want to do it.’ And he goes, ‘Aww, thanks man.’” Sandler said he asked Hoffman again if he wanted to do the movie, “And he goes, ‘Aww, I can’t.’ And I go, ‘Oh, why not?’ And he goes, ‘Awww, I just don’t want to.’” Bradley Whitford got the part in the end.

Sandler and Jennifer Aniston Go Way Back

Aniston told E! News that they first met when they were both struggling actors in Los Angeles. She was dating one of Sandler’s friends — we don’t know who — and the pair became instant pals, remaining friends ever since.

The Sandler Drama Everyone Forgets About

Before Sandler would lowkey shock folks with his serious, darker turn in Uncut Gems, he starred alongside Don Cheadle in Reign Over Me, a 2007 drama in which Sandler plays a guy who lost his wife and kids in the September 11th attacks.

Debunking Internet Lore

Many sites, including Wikipedia, will tell you that Sandler was up for the role of Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy, but straight from The Sandman himself, those rumors are false. In fact, he’s never discussed any possible role with Marvel.

His Latest Movie Is His Highest Rated Comedy (So Far)

You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah set a new record for Sandler’s highest-rated comedy on Rotten Tomatoes with a 93 percent critic score as of this writing.

His Dad Used to Call Him When He Was Doing ‘SNL’ Live on Air

During an actors roundtable hosted by the Los Angeles Times, Sandler said, “When I would come off stage on Saturday Night Live, and I had a good skit, any skit, even if it didn’t go right, I would walk by this desk where pages would answer the phone. I would walk by, and a page would go, ‘Adam, your father’s on the phone!’” He’d take those calls, even when the show was still running, and his dad would tell him, “That-a-baby! That was terrific!”  

He Based His ‘Hustle’ Character on His Dad

During the same discussion, Sandler went on to say that his dad served as inspiration for Sandler’s Hustle character, Stanley Sugarman. “I was basically playing dad the way my dad would raise me,” he explained. “Never talked about himself. Never talked about ‘Hey, it’s four in the morning, I’m tired too.’ My character needed something to show for himself, but he just fell for this kid and wanted the best for him. And I always felt my dad would do anything for me.”

His Wife Has Appeared in Several of His Films

Sandler met his wife, Jackie Titone, on the set of Big Daddy, where she played a waitress. Since then, she’s had roles in Little Nicky, Grown Ups, Murder Mystery, 50 First Dates and many more Sandler projects.

He Wants to Make a Sequel to ‘The Waterboy’

During a conversation with Variety in 2022, Sandler said he’d love to do a sequel to his 1998 sports comedy. “That would be fun as hell,” Sandler stated. “I love Mama. I love Henry Winkler. I mean, come on. He’s always gonna be Coach Klein to me.”

’Canteen Boy’ Inspired ‘The Waterboy’

Those familiar with Sandler’s SNL character would know that Canteen Boy was the precursor for his character, Bobby Boucher, in The Waterboy. “You could compare him to ‘Canteen Boy,’ whereas he does love water, and they both get picked on a lot,” Sandler admitted. “But the thing I like the most about this character is just that he is a genuine, good person.”

His Company Has Produced A Horror Movie

Happy Madison Productions previously had two subsidiaries: Madison 23 Productions, which catered to dramas and produced Reign on Me (2007) and Funny People (2009), and Scary Madison Productions, a horror-focused division that only ever produced The Shortcut (2009) starring future horror director, Dave Franco.

Two of His Movies Have a 0 Percent Score on Rotten Tomatoes

Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions films have not fared well among critics and audiences alike. Two of them (Father of the Year and The Ridiculous 6) sport 0 percent scores on Rotten Tomatoes, and of the 51 movies produced by his company, only five have Fresh critic scores (with three of them showcasing a more serious tone).

One of His Best Performances

Sandler starred in Noah Baumbach’s 2017 family drama, The Meyerowitz Stories, as an unemployed man with family problems. His performance was lauded by Variety as “glorious to watch” and prompted The A.V. Club to release a review titled, “It’s Time to Admit That Adam Sandler Is a Good Actor.”

All Grown Up

“I’m calmer than I used to be,” he told AARP Magazine in 2022. “I used to go nuts. I had a quick temper, quick reactions. I made a lot of dumb mistakes and said a lot of stupid things. Looking back on relationships, I could be an ass. I was selfish. I was competitive with other comedians and stuff.” 

He ascribes a lot of his maturity to therapy: “I talk to a shrink sometimes. He’s given me a plan. Sometimes, just holding in a sentence, taking a beat for a minute before saying something stupid. When I do that, I realize it wasn’t that important to say it in the first place, and I don’t spend two hours making everyone around me feel weirdness for no reason. I’m also better at appreciation. I appreciate other people’s talent now rather than competing with it — in every field, in every sport, every part of showbiz.”

The Adam Sandler Lookalike Facebook Page Is Wild

Here, see for yourself (don’t worry, it’s not a Facebook link).

He Received the Mark Twain Prize Earlier This Year

Sandler was honored with the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in March this year, making him the 24th recipient of the award and the only one to do the first part of his speech in that classic Sandler voice.

When ‘TV Guide’ Misquoted Him

In 1995, there was a bit of a hubbub at the SNL office when TV Guide quoted Sandler as supposedly saying, “The writing sucks,” during an interview. Sandler said he was shocked to learn they printed it because he never said it. “I go, ‘I never fuckin’ said that. I never would say that,’” he told The Washington Post years later. “So I called the writer. I said, ‘Why did you say I said that?’ And he kind of didn’t want to talk to me. I should have taped the conversation.”

He Almost Turned Down ‘Uncut Gems’

In his interview with The Washington Post, Sandler said he doesn’t purposely seek dramatic roles and that his wife had to convince him to do Uncut Gems. “When I see him like that (doubting himself), I let him know why I think he would be great at that specific part and why I think his fans would like to see him be that character,” she explained. “Because people coming up on the street and telling him how much one of his movies meant to them, that’s what drives him.”

His ‘SNL’ Hosting Episode Won Emmy Awards

Sandler’s 2019 SNL episode is regarded as one of the best of that year and was tied for the highest-rated that season, along with the ones hosted by Adam Driver and Matt Damon. Sandler’s episode won two Emmy categories (Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series and Outstanding Variety Sketch Series), with Lorne Michaels making a point of crediting Sandler during his Emmy acceptance speech.

The Slapping Scene in ‘Spanglish’ Kinda Hurt

The scene in Spanglish where Tea Leoni repeatedly slaps Sandler’s chest was pretty painful. “I was hurting! My poor chest,” Sandler told IGN. “That was a lot of takes. The camera kept rolling, and Tea kept whacking. (Laughs) Like by take six, wow. My makeup girl would have to run in between takes and put flesh color back on my chest.”

His College Acting Coach Didn’t Believe in Him

During an episode of Variety’s “Actors On Actors,” Brad Pitt told the story of Sandler’s acting coach at NYU, who one day took Sandler out for a beer, only to try to get him to quit acting and “choose another path.” The Sandman confirmed this, along with the second part, where Sandler, at the height of his career, ran into the same acting coach at a bar and introduced him to his friends by saying, “This is the only teacher to ever buy me a beer.” 

Cue the mic drop.

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